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The twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac
1000583
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The figures represent the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac (Sheng xiao), dressed in full-length priestly robes with their hands folded. From left to right: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

History of the Object
The twelve animals represent the twelve-year Chinese cycle. The Chinese calendar begins with the rat and ends with the pig. As grave goods, they symbolise a kind of sacrifice of time made to the protecting deities.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Red earthenware with remains of white slip-painting surviving in parts 
Measurements
Average height 20.5 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 7th century ~ AD 7th century 
Creation date
7th Century - 10th Century; 618-907 (Tang Dynasty) 
Function
grave gift 
Acquisition
Purchased in 1930 from an art shop in The Hague 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
Lit.: B. Jansen, Chinese ceramiek, The Hague/Lochem 1976, cat. no. 67 Grafkeramiek uit het oude China, themanummer Vormen uit vuur (2004), p. 20, cat.no. 9 Ref.: W.A. Thorpe, ‘Creatures of the Chinese zodiac ’, in Apollo (1925), pp. 108-113 M. Prodan, La poterie T’ang, Paris 1960, pl. 84-95 
Owner
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag 
Museum
Gemeentemuseum 
Credit line
 

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    AD 17th century ~ AD 17th century
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    AD 18th century ~ AD 18th century
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